HOMESCHOOLING: Prosecution is waged abroad; troubling trends abound in US

NASHVILLE, Tenn.?As the practice of homeschooling continues to grow, an expert has
noticed a “marked increase” in the scrutiny that parents and students
can face when they choose to pursue an education at home.

think what we’re seeing is unfortunately a growing trend,” Michael
Farris, chancellor of Patrick Henry College, told Baptist Press.

of the most severe cases are happening overseas, in countries such as
Germany and Sweden where families are being fined thousands of dollars
for homeschooling their children and government authorities are removing
children from homes.

Religion News Service reported that in
Bavaria, police entered a home and seized a 15-year-old girl, placing
her in a psychiatric facility because they believed the girl had been
brainwashed by her conservative evangelical parents who homeschooled

In the same article, a woman missed a court date to answer
charges of homeschooling her two sons, and the police tracked her down
and took the boys from her custody. Last year, a German family received
political asylum in Tennessee after they were persecuted by the German
government for homeschooling their children.

“In Germany,
home-schooling is a crime so serious that families who ignore the law
have been fined into poverty, and parents have served jail time. Some
families have staged stand-offs against the police, or hid their
children with other families,” RNS said.

Germany is one of a
handful of nations that bans homeschooling, with a Hitler-era law giving
German states the right to take custody of children who don’t attend
school, according to the article.

there are trends there, but the more frightening trends for American
homeschoolers are the trends in the United States,” Farris said.

New Hampshire, the state Supreme Court is expected to rule any day in a
case where divorced parents could not agree on how to educate their
daughter. The father said the mother’s strict Christian homeschool
teachings were isolating the child, and a lower court judge ordered the
child to attend public schools, which the mother considered a violation
of her parental rights.

The father’s attorney argued before the
New Hampshire Supreme Court in January that parents have no
constitutional right to homeschool their children. New Hampshire state
Rep. Jim Parison has introduced a Homeschool Freedom Act, which is
intended to protect parents from needless interference by government
agents when they choose homeschooling.

Farris, who also is
chairman and general counsel of the Home School Legal Defense
Association, said the New Hampshire case “is an incredibly dangerous
development” because the judge who sent the girl to public school was
opposed to the mother teaching a belief system that included absolute

In the cover story for the November-December issue of The
Home School Court Report magazine, Farris details a third wave of
argument that seeks to curtail or crush the homeschooling movement. The
first wave, years ago, he wrote, was to accuse the movement of being
unable to provide an adequate education. The second wave was to
criticize its students for being socially inept. Both were proven wrong,
Farris wrote.

“But there is a third wave coming. And I doubt
that many of you have any idea of the intensity and breadth of the
elitist movement that is taking dead aim at our movement,” Farris wrote.
“… Here is their assertion. Christian homeschooling parents are
effectively transmitting values to their children that the elitists
believe are dangerous to the well-being of both these very children and
society as a whole.

“What are those values? Homosexuality is a
sin. Men should be the leaders of their families. Jesus is the only way
to God. All other religions are false.”

Farris quoted law
professors from Northwestern University, George Washington University
and Emory University who have called for a ban on religious education in
both private and homeschooling contexts.

“The people who are
preaching tolerance are actually opponents of liberty,” Farris told
Baptist Press. “Historically, tolerance and liberty were competing
ideas. The Toleration Acts of William and Mary in 1688 were radically
different than the religious liberty ideas that came from James Madison
and Patrick Henry initially in 1776 in the Virginia Bill of Rights.
Toleration means there is an official position and you’re allowed to
differ from it a little bit. ‘If you differ too much, we won’t tolerate

“That’s exactly what’s happening with this judge in New
Hampshire and with these law professors. Religious liberty means the
government has no jurisdiction over what you believe and the soul is at
liberty,” Farris said. “No one can be punished for what they believe or
don’t believe. We have the historical battle coming back, and the forces
of tolerance are opposing the forces of liberty.”

of the reason for the uptick in scrutiny, Farris said, is the sheer
number of homeschoolers, though he estimates they’re still only about 20
percent of the private school population.

“So we’re
comparatively small, but homeschoolers are disproportionately
representing the best and the brightest. That’s what I think they don’t
like. They don’t like seeing the next generation of top leaders being
taught in a way that effectively transmits a Christian worldview,”
Farris said.

A study released in January by the National Home
Education Research Institute said more than 2 million children in the
United States are homeschooled. The NHERI studied census data to
determine that homeschoolers account for nearly 4 percent of the
school-age population, or 1 in 25 children, and the institute said
homeschooling is rapidly becoming a mainstream education alternative.

Old Schoolhouse magazine, a homeschooling publication, said in January
that homeschoolers score an average of 37 percentile points above the
national average on standardized achievement tests, and such statistics
have caught the eye of college admissions personnel.

The magazine
said colleges are employing a wide variety of strategies aimed at
recruiting homeschoolers, including strong representation at homeschool
conventions, direct mailing campaigns and promotions in publications.
Some institutions have appointed “homeschool liaison and recruitment

“The proof is in the pudding,” Farris said. “The
executive editor of the Harvard Law Review right now was homeschooled.
Homeschoolers that I’ve taught are now on full-ride scholarships at
Pepperdine Law School, George Washington Law School, University of
Virginia Law School and a number of others. Those are ones I personally

“Students that I’ve personally taught have won five
national championships in moot court, which is legal debate. You can’t
do that with kids who weren’t well-educated when they walked in the

Farris noted that when Patrick Henry College faced Oxford
University in the final round of a moot court competition, three of the
four students in the round were American homeschoolers — one from
Oxford and two from Patrick Henry.

But the threat from legal circles is looming, Farris said, and homeschooling families must act.

need to stand up for a permanent protection for parental rights,” he
wrote. “In another 20 years, it will be too late…. Persecution is on
its way. It is in the law reviews today. It will be in the courtrooms


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